Joseph Park has a preternatural ability to handle paint. In another, long-past era he might have produced hyper-realistic paintings of, say, a dead pheasant and a hare, along with a drinking flagon, with the sheen of feathers still bright, every hair in place, and the subdued gleam of pewter so compelling you believe that if you reached out you would touch the actual objects.

But there is something different, and stranger, about Park’s paintings. Critic D. K. Row wrote in the Oregonian about a Portland Art Museum show a couple of years ago: “Joseph Park is a dazzling painter. Flat as sheets of Plexiglas, his oil-on-board compositions exude a highly specialized virtuosity normally reserved for slam-dunk contests, sleight-of-hand demonstrations and breakdancing competitions. The critical hazard of making dazzling artworks, of course, is that you fall so in love with your refined flourishes that you fail to notice that you’ve drifted into the unseemly realm of razzle-dazzle. Park, a 44-year-old Seattleite, seems intent on sidestepping this pitfall, but teeters precipitously in his exhibition at the Portland Art Museum.

Perhaps I would put it in another way. A post-modern wind has blown over Joe Park’s paintings. None of them has the innocence of a straightforward, pre-photographic attempt to depict things as they are in themselves and in our perception. Instead we see a wide range influences—surrealism, cubism, anime, film noir …

…in both his subject matter (little animated cartoon animals, portraits, rethinkings of old paintings) and treatment.

Artists now can avail themselves of a wide range of possible, already existent styles and media. One way to deal with this plethora of possibilities is to go abstract, eschewing all reproduction of visual forms. Joseph Park has chosen another path—of subtle illusion, allusion and elusion.

Whim W’Him is thrilled at his contribution—a full-length study of company dancer Chalnessa Eames—to its très out on a whim auction and party, October 15, 2011 at the fabulous studio/gallery and apartment of Steve Jensen and Vincent Lipe.